Dortmund R4: Goodmorning, Vietnam!

0 | Chess Event Coverage
Quang Le (c) Georgios SouleidisIn round 4, Quang Le from Vietnam showed he did not come to Dortmund to serve as cannon fodder! After the 2700+ aggression he faced in round 3, Quang Le was able to gear up and confront Ponomariov with some tactics of his own.

Report by Daan Zult

Until move eleven of a Grünfeld Indian, both players were familiar with the position from the white perspective. Earlier this year the position arose in Quang Le - Sasikiran (Moskou, 1-0) and Ponomariov - Carlsen (Nice, 0-1). Now Ponomariov was the first to deviate from both games with 11... b6, where Sasikiran played 11... Bd7 and Carlsen 11... Rd8.

Ponomariov’s move was only played twice before, both times by Gata Kamsky in 1991, in which he won and lost a game. The move might be a little bluff, because after 12.dxc5 dxc5 13.Qd5 or 12.dxc5 Ne5 the move is essentially a pawn sacrifice in a complicated position where white seems to have the better chances. This is further confirmed by the loss of Kamsky against Rao Vivek, who did accept the sacrifice and won the game. Quang Le rejected the sacrifice and played the more solid and careful 12.Bf4, after which he retained a small but evident advantage.

Whether Ponomariov tried to complicate the position in an eager to win or whether he thought it was a wise plan is unclear, but with 18... h5? he asked too much of his position.

It gave Quang Le the opportunity to show his true color, when with 19.Nxg6! Nxg6 20.Bd6 he unleashed some excellent tactics that gave him a pawn and the bishop pair. Fortunately for Ponomariov the position did not end in a clear cut win position and he might still have drawn it with accurate play. However, in an ending with bishops of opposite color Ponomariov showed once more it was not his day.

With 31... h4, he gave Quang Le the opportunity to create two connected passed pawns, starting with 32.f4, 33.e5, followed by g2-g3, which Quang Le confidently converged into a full point. With his victory Quang Le bounced back to a 50% score and brought new tension into the tournament standings. He also once again showed that Vietnam is a chess country to reckon with in the future. Kudos to Quang Le.

Liem Quang Le (photo by Georgios Souleidis)

In terms of ‘fire on the board’, the other games where less interesting. In particular Mamedyarov - Kramnik, which was a big exchange feast in the QGD and could be considered the first rest day for both players, although in fact Black seemed slightly more pleasant after the opening.

Mamedyarov - Kramnik (photo by Georgios Souleidis)

Mamedyarov will probably be happy now that he is in sole lead. Kramnik can also be satisfied with his play, and he can now try to get back in the tournament with white against Naiditsch in round 5.

The game Naiditsch - Leko, a Ruy Lopez Arkhangelsk, was not much different. With 15.Qd2 Leko was the first to deviate from a game Leko - Shirov, played in 1997, where he played 15.Qg3. This new move is unlikely to attract a bunch of screaming fans, because it did not change the evaluation and result of the game, which after a couple of exchanges ended in a drawn rook endgame.

Naiditsch - Leko (photo by Georgios Souleidis)

The big winners of round 4 were Quang Le and Skakhriar Mamedyarov, who is now in sole lead. Round 5 (played today) might show some fighting chess, because in Leko - Quang Le and Kramnik - Naiditsch, the rating favorites have white and might not let black walk with an easy draw.

Moreover, we have the number 1 and 2 of the standings competing against each other, where Pono might try to get back on top by having a shot at Shakh with white. However, the statistics on the FIDE site show this would be a surprise, because all their six previous rated games ended in a draw.

Standings after 4 rounds:

1. Mamedyarov 3 2. Ponomariov 2,5 3. Le Quang 2 4. Kramnik, Naiditsch, Leko 1,5

Games start daily at 15.00 CET and can be followed live here.

Dortmund Games round 4

Game viewer by ChessTempo


More from ArnieChipmunk
Why chess will never be popular

Why chess will never be popular

In praise of draws

In praise of draws